Healthcare Business

UnitedHealth Earnings Rise as Insurer Adjusts to Obamacare

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UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2014 results before markets opened Wednesday. The health insurance and benefits management firm reported diluted quarterly earnings per share (EPS) of $1.55 on revenues of $33.43 billion. In the same period a year ago, UnitedHealth reported EPS of $1.41 on net income of $31.12 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $1.50 on revenues of $33.11 billion.

For the full year, UnitedHealth reported EPS of $5.70 on revenues of $130.47 billion, compared with EPS of $5.50 and revenues of $122.49 billion in 2013. Analysts had estimated EPS of $5.64 and revenues of $130.1 billion.

For 2015, the company forecast revenues in a range of $140.5 billion to $141.5 billion and EPS in a range of $6.00 to $6.25. Cash flow from operations was pegged at $8.0 billion to $8.4 billion.

Total enrollment numbers fell slightly year-over-year from 45.45 million to 44.99 million. Commercial enrollments dropped the most, from 30.16 million to 28.75 million. Medicare and Medicaid enrollment rose from 10.48 million to 11.81 million, and international enrollment slipped from 4.81 million to 4.43 million.

The consolidated medical care ratio fell by 0.6% to 80.9% for the year and fell by 1.4% to 79.8% in the fourth quarter.

The company grew its Medicare and retirement revenues by 5% year-over-year to $11.5 billion in the quarter and $46.3 billion for the year. The employer and individual insurance business slipped about $1.8 billion to $43 billion for the year. Operating margin fell from 6.3% to 5.8% due to 85 basis points of pressure from Affordable Care Act Medicare rate cuts and other taxes and fees, partially offset by better operating performance and service margins.

Shares traded up about 3% in Wednesday’s premarket session, at $108.00 in a 52-week range of $69.57 to $106.38. The high was posted on Tuesday. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $112.00 before the results were announced.

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